By Mackenzie M. Hebner
Her eyes stared back at me, cold and lifeless, wide-open, blistered, horrified, begging for relief. It startled me, to see her lifeless but not at peace. I thought if she was gone things would be better. I thought that if she was gone she could no longer feel pain, but pain was all that remained in her expression. I didn’t mean for her to die. I wanted to save her. But there she was, lifeless, tortured.
I’ll never forget how her stare haunted me. Gazing directly into mine, desperation seeping out of no longer functioning pores. I’ll never forget how her final emotion was fear. I’ll never forget how her arm was twisted and her body seemingly contorted in its limp position on the floor, tilted on its side to stop from hurling.
It was a fight like none we’d ever had before. Voices belting at all octaves to prove a point or simply screaming to be heard above the surrounding sounds. No one was there to hear us. It was just her and I. I was the only witness. The emotions were rawer than ever before, to a point we’d only ever heard talked about in the most gut-wrenching of stories, but now we had felt it. I want to say it’s not my fault she’s lying down now. That all I was was a witness. A simple bystander. But I knew where it was headed. I felt her breaths grow rapid and more shallow than she’d ever experienced. I saw the vomit rising in her throat. I saw her crumbling before me and I simply stood there, in shock, observing. I wish it wasn’t true. What they say I mean. That no bystander is innocent. I wish I was innocent. What could I have done to save her though? She was on her way to being gone before this happened. What could I have done?
There were no final words, simply tears. It wasn’t a valiant death, it was horrid. It was cruel. It was brutal. It was graphic. It was inside out devastation. It was the truest embodiment of hopelessness.
No one would know. Because there was nothing left to find. After all, it was the goal of the crime, disappearance. Vanishing. Leaving. It wasn’t my fault. How could it be? There was no trace. No DNA besides hers. Nothing left but the scene displayed before me. The kind that shakes you to the core, disturbs every part of you. It seemed almost tragic that they would never understand the killer. They would assume until the assumptions were enough to keep the tears at bay. It seemed a bit too cruel. But then again, it was too late now. There was nothing left to do. No one left to save.
It wasn’t fair. Truly. She was innocent. But she had been corrupted. You see, she opened a door once, only knowing the prospective consequences so deep down within her that the screams of warning weren’t enough to steer her away. So, she walked through a door she didn’t know the repercussions of, and without so much as a second thought to the possibility this may not turn out the way she hoped, the way she had always pictured the path of her life, she stepped through and closed that very door behind her. She forgot the tell them where she hid the key. So, now she was trapped. Locked away from what she had always known, with only a path of anonymous adversity before her. Each step determining a new landmine in the distance.
That was the day I first met her. You could see the lost expression dancing in her hazel eyes, eyelashes, lightly sprinkled with a deepened pigment, fluttering as she gazed into the trenches of her new surroundings. The surroundings she had all but accidentally welcomed. She was about 5’6” and had bleach blonde hair, thin, but healthy. It wasn’t the kind of hair that you can tell came upon its authentic hue by altercation, but one that claimed its beauty through natural processes. You know, the ones I’m sure you learned more than you wanted to about in middle school. Her figure was one you’d perhaps pick out in a crowd. I don’t mean that to diminish her, rather quite the opposite. As I said, she was of a natural glow. One of those who just by first glances you know has more to their story. A sweet smile and a genuine desire for good. It made my job harder I’d say. When I learned of the requirements of my new position. I suppose everything comes at a price, even the knowledge of her existence. There are certain things I just didn’t have control over. Not the way I wish I did. I took no pleasure in watching her demise. Not one ounce. In fact, I broke with her, but it didn’t change the details in my job description that had slipped my mind as I signed the dotted line. My sympathy couldn’t change her fate. Only she could do that, but that knowledge I had no clearance to share. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I put my best efforts forth without crossing the line. I let her think for herself from time to time. Perhaps I took a few more lunch breaks than I was allotted. But all in all… well, all in all, I couldn’t save her. All in all, the job was predestined, non-negotiable, destiny. I tried to save her. I did. I wanted her to have another chance. As her eyes looked into mine, I pitied her. I wanted to help her. But, as I said, there was nothing I could do. It was too late…
Desperation- “feeling of being desperate”
Devastation- “feeling of being devastated”
Hopelessness- “the absence of hope”
Lifeless- “the absence of life”
She was gone now. And no one would know whose hold it was that had been the final touch. There was nothing I could do now but stare back. And as I gazed at her form, there was something I recognized in her haunted eyes. After all, they were mine.